There is a bit of a myth going around that by doing a re-roofing project yourself – the homeowner – you could save some money. Well, there is certainly some truth in that. Putting a roof on a house is certainly not as difficult as, say, remodeling your kitchen, but even a seemingly small mistake could result in a far bigger and more costly problem than simply having to replace a few roof tiles.
Roofing problems tend to fall into two categories: Those that are a simple fix and cause no fuss, and those that interfere with the roof’s ability to protect the house. Because the main purpose of a roof is to protect the contents of the house it sits on, when it fails, pretty much anything in the home can be impacted. And that’s even assuming you will be there when the problem occurs. You’ve probably heard of people who, while they were on vacation far away, a roof problem was letting in gallons and gallons of water into their unoccupied home. By the time they arrive back from their vacation, the water had done an incredible amount of damage.
The other type of significant water damage is that which happens over a long period of time. Often, a simple, small leak might go undetected – all the while it is doing a huge amount of damage – only to be discovered long after wood is rotted away, and mold has moved in big time. In these situations, the cost of repairing the damage can go way beyond the small money you saved by doing the work yourself.
What can you save by re-roofing your home by yourself?
When I was younger, I used to enjoy doing DIY projects at home. I would start with great gusto and enthusiasm, but about half way through, I would get frustrated enough to no longer enjoy the project. I’d eventually finish it, but was usually somewhat unhappy with the result. Those little mistakes I made – for I am neither a carpenter nor a plumber – would vaguely haunt me as I passed them by every day forevermore. I learned to either not touch the project in the first place, or wait until I could pay someone to do it properly. And absolutely never to start a project before the last one was finished. That rule of never having more than one project going at any one time was one of the best decisions I ever made as a homeowner.
You save money in doing your own roof project by avoiding paying for the labor and avoiding paying for the roofing company’s profit. The labor is all the physical work and also the project planning, measuring, etc., that the roofer will do before anything begins.
You lose money, however, in several ways. One, you will probably spend three times the time a professional roofer would spend on your roof. Two, you won’t get the great contractor’s pricing from your local roofing company supply center, who, by the way, really don’t like consumers to arrive at their doors looking for roofing materials. They know from experience that you probably don’t fully know what you’re getting yourself into, and also, that you you’ll order the wrong amount (either too much or too little) and you’ll waste a disproportionate amount of their time before the project is complete. So, even if you were saving let’s say $35/hour in roofer wage costs, you’re only actually saving a 1/3rd of that because you will take three times as long.
You also lose money in wasted materials. A professional roofer will know how to optimally calculate the amount of material he or she needs to replace your roof. After hundreds or roofing projects, he will have learned that lesson at cost. You, on the other hand, will likely order too many tiles, or too little waterproofing PVC, renting the wrong type of nail gun, or the wrong type of roofing nails. You can return what you over-ordered, or run down again to the store to get more nails or whatever. If it’s the first time you’ve ever replaced a roof, the staff at the local roofing supply store will get to know you personally before long.
Probably the biggest way you lose money doing your own roof is, you likely will not do a good job. Let’s face it: Most of us take time to master a skill, whether it is computer programming, carpentry or flying an aircraft. Roofing is no exception. The first one you do will likely have plenty of little mistakes in it, so much so that, if the same job were done – and took the same amount of time – by a roofing contractor, you would be thoroughly and justifiably angry with them. Consider that reality when you opt to change the roof on your home without the help of a professional contractor.
Replacing your own roof equals spending the money another way
In summary, it is fair to say, you can certainly replace your own roof. You’ll save a little money, and you can always spend that money somewhere else. But in reality, unless this is the seventh roof you’ve replaced, you’ll spend that saved money on undoing the problems you created during the project. You’ll also pay more for everything you buy or rent. A roofing company will have its own good supply of everything from nails to nail guns. The cost of their nail guns is amortized over many, many jobs, whereas you will pay sticker price for the rental of one, and for the extra long time it will take you to complete the work.
Where does all the refuse from the project go? Do you know how to hire a truck, fill it, and drive it to the dump? There’s also a disposal fee to consider, and that, too, is give to roofers at a discount, whereas you – a consumer – can expect to pay sticker price.
Most of all, though, is the risk. A roofing company is licensed, bonded and insured to do the work. If one of their workers gets injured, you won’t be held liable. And roofing is a dangerous profession. Why would you want to take the risk? Insurance might cover your costs, but it won’t fix your back if you end up in a wheelchair.
Ask the experts.